Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Jason Smyth's double delight: Athlete now has two gold medals

Double top: Jason Smyth powers to 200m gold, his second victory of the European Championships
Double top: Jason Smyth powers to 200m gold, his second victory of the European Championships

Jason Smyth now has two gold medals to go along with his new classification and he insists world records are the next logical addition – and they could be just around the corner.

Smyth stormed to gold in the T12 200m at the IPC European Championships in Swansea by more than half a second – two days after winning the 100m title in similarly commanding style.

And the 27-year-old from Eglinton almost defied strong wind and rain in his world record bid, his time of 21.67 seconds just 11 hundredths away from making history.

Smyth, who is visually impaired, holds the world record in both the T13 100m and 200m but had been reclassified just before his first race at the European Championships.

But Smyth, who achieved a Paralympic double-double at Beijing 2008 and London 2012, is confident he can start to write more times into the history books soon.

"There's no reason why not and sprinting is dictated a lot on conditions," explained Smyth, the Northern Ireland able bodied record holder (10.22) and the first Paralympic athlete to compete in the able bodied European Championships – in Barcelona in 2010.

"I'm just happy to be here with a gold and another time maybe I'll be standing here talking about a world record.

"I was very close (to the world record) but as we've seen throughout the week, there hasn't really been any unbelievable times.

"Without a doubt I'm delighted and over the moon. Coming into the championships I've got in the back of my mind that I want two medals.

"And now it's nice to actually stand here having accomplished that," he added.

"First and foremost it's good to finally win and then you're just trying to execute the race and hope the times come together."

It makes for another Ulster success on the track this week after Smyth's pal Michael McKillop also emerged as European champion, winning the T38 800m on Wednesday.

The Glengormley middle distance ace, who suffers from cerebral palsy, will attempt to double his gold tally when he runs in the 1,500m tomorrow.

Smyth believes Paralympic sport will continue to flourish.

"Since Michael and I have come onto the scene in 2005 we have been very fortunate to have successes like this," said Smyth.

"I think it has been good for Paralympic sport, just letting people know it's possible and increasing awareness.

"It's been a success – now let's hope it's a bigger success."

Smyth added: "It's been a long, long summer with issues after issues so it's great to get to the back end of the season.

"After the 100 metres I felt I wasn't where I needed to be because of my reclassification from the T13 to the T12 category.

"However I then chatted with my dad who gave me more perspective and I ran a lot better.

"I am over the moon about winning the 100 and 200 metres which is what I wanted here. Championships are all about winning medals."

One of Jason's "issues" related to his eve of Championship classification change from a T13 to a T12 category because of a worsening in his visual impairment.

This caused disruption because of the changes to both his timetable plus the athletes he was competing against.

Smyth was always odds on favourite to strike gold again after his decisive victory 48 hours earlier in the 100 metres.

This was despite the fact that this was his first 200m race since securing the IPC World title a year ago in Lyon in a world record time.

The start line included Russia's Artem Loginov and Spain's Munar Martinez who had taken silver and bronze in the 100m.

Smyth shot out of the blocks to take a commanding lead going into the home straight.

The City of Derry runner never eased up on his way to victory.

Martinez took silver some way in arrears in a personal best of 22.28 with bronze going to Loginov in 22.55.

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